In an interesting move, Germany’s Condor is buying Airbus A330neo widebodies, to replace its Boeing 767 fleet, deciding against the 787.
Re-fleeting appears to be a popular theme, lately. Perhaps after over a year of forced idleness, airlines are now getting back to normal. The pandemic is far from over, but airlines have to prepare for the light at the end of the tunnel. But they need to do so, after suffering the consequences of the pandemic. And on the flip side, they need to look for opportunities emerging in the pandemic, too.
Condor and Airbus announced that the airline will get 16 A330neo aircraft, for their widebody needs. The airline currently has 15 Boeing 767s. They also have 22 aircraft of the A320 family (all ceos), plus 13 older Boeing 757s. So there is more scope for orders in the airline, this time single-aisles. Their A321s (10 of them) aren’t too old, but the A320s (12) are nearly as old as the 757s.
Condor – A Ready Supply of A330neo Aircraft?
Airbus is producing only a handful of these widebodies per month, with more production capacity going to the A350. Still, deliveries of the new A330neo fleet for Condor will be relatively quick. The first of the jets will arrive in autumn 2022. And the conclusion of deliveries, along with the 767 retirements, will happen by mid-2024.
With a fleet split between Airbus and Boeing, Condor choosing the A330neo might look like a loss for Boeing. But there are some special circumstances in this case. Condor got a bailout worth 525.3 million euros from Germany, just a day before the announcement of this order. Officially, the two events aren’t connected. But there could well have been some strong reactions if such an order went… elsewhere.
However, there could well be more factors here, influencing Condor’s choice of the Airbus A330neo. Again, the first of these jets will arrive quite soon. This is because out of the sixteen aircraft, seven are white-tails. They are A330neos for AirAsia X in Malaysia, and Indonesia’s Garuda. Condor could well have gotten substantial discounts for these jets. The remaining nine aircraft will come from lessors. All jets are A330-900 models.
The Plane That Nobody Wanted
The A330neo is an interesting aircraft, in some ways. Originally, Airbus wanted to use an updated A330, to respond to the challenge of the then-upcoming Boeing 787. Airlines and lessors balked at the idea. They thought the A330 was too old, essentially inheriting its design from the 1970s A300. They needed something fresh, a clean-sheet design. Airbus relented, and that’s how we got the A350.
And then, Airbus made that updated A330 anyway. It didn’t have an all-new wing, per the original design, just an updated one (with A350-inspired winglets) and new engines. The result? They are selling like hotcakes! Critics of the A350 say that this jet is optimized for truly long, long-haul trips. By contrast, the A330neo also works great for shorter medium-haul hops – the kind a leisure operator like Condor might do.
That’s why the type remains popular with dense-traffic, medium-haul operators in Asia. The 767 may have beat the A330 in the freighter world. But with operators like Condor, we could still see some orders for the A330neo, in the future. Ironically, the aircraft’s biggest competitor might be a fleet of cheap-to-lease, second-hand A330ceos, as we saw previously.
Spyros Georgilidakis has degrees in Business Enterprise and Management. He has 14 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industries, along with a passion for all-things-aviation and travel logistics. He is also an experienced writer and editor for on-line publications, and a licensed professional drone pilot.
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Certainly a couple of factors: 525 million Euro of German tax payer money all going offshore Airbus would have upset a few people Including the French as its effectively EU money and France is a big partner. I suspect the German Government will get 1/3rd of that money back in taxes. The idea is to keep jobs and so it makes no sense. US carriers, also the recipients of government money are also buying mainly Boeing and like Condor also have delayed fleet upgrade decisions.
The B787 is in a bit troubled now with production suspension right now till a airframe tolerance issue is solved. Condors 767-200ER are 26 years old, CORSIA has kicked in and in the German market you have to be ‘green’.
Main think is I think the A330-900 is actually a better aircraft for the job. The German leisure market isn’t just 20 somethings going for a rave in Ibitha. Condor’s aircraft have business class and premium economy seats in them. The 2/4/2 seating of the A330 I think will be more comfortable for a German couple due to aisle access and partnering than the 3/3/3 in a B787.
The carbon fibre B787-9 is certainly a better long range aircraft but in ranges below 4000 nautical miles the higher aspect ratio of the A330-900 wings make it equal in fuel burn.
The usual targets of Southern Europe to escape the winter but also Morocco and the Canaries and the Caribbean (all under 4000 nautical miles) so range is not an issue I think.
Incidentally the original A330 proposal would have been the A330 fuselage with a carbon fibre composite wing and new engines. It would have worked fairly well with the wing getting rid of the B787 advantages in ultra long range.